Read D.F.'s bio and previous columns
April 17, 2009
to Profit? Easy! Just Separate the Good from the Bad
thought nothing good could happen if you went to the federal government to
save your business. You cynic! You approach a bunch of blowhards who have
never had a private-sector job in their lives, led by an erstwhile
“community organizer” who used to teach people to organize protest marches
when their toilets were stopped up. (As opposed to, oh, say, calling a
Seriously, what could go wrong?
know, they start trying to run your business, as if you were doing
such a good job of it. But maybe some good can come from letting
business ignoramuses stick their noses under your corporate tent – and one
such good thing is that they might suggest things you would never think of,
because your hard-boiled sense of business realism would consider them
Consider: The Obama Administration is now entertaining the notion that it
can save General Motors through an approach to bankruptcy whereby it takes
the “good” parts of GM and puts them to one side, then takes the “bad” parts
and puts them over on the other side.
“good” parts – presumably Buick, Chevrolet and Pontiac – go in and out of
bankruptcy faster than Phil Collins can wash his hair. The “bad” parts –
Hummer, GMAC, the union contracts, the bond obligations, Saturn, the VEBA
commitment, etc. – just stay in bankruptcy court until eternity.
Why didn’t you think of this? Take the parts of your business that create
problems for you – we’ll just call those “costs” – and get rid of them!
Payroll? You don’t need that! Debt service? Default! The rent on your
building or office? Don’t pay!
all this in a box that you will then submerge in quick-setting concrete. But
before you close it, add some other things. The guy in the office down the
hall who’s always asking you why you haven’t gone to a virtual private
network? Stick him in there too. The printer that keeps breaking? The office
refrigerator that’s smelled like garlic since someone put some in there
without the top on the jar nine years ago? Hey, it’s a big box.
it’s bad, put it in. Then you just keep the good stuff!
employees’ hard work and productivity can stay. But since you got rid of
payroll, you don’t have to pay them anymore. All the money you make off your
accounts can stay, but since you put your clients’ complaints and demands in
the box, they will never bother you again.
and by the way, have you ever wondered why the CEO actually has to show up
for work? I have wondered this many times. It’s an obligation I think should
go in the box. But the benefits of being CEO get to stay, because they are
part of the “good” company.
is perfect! Wait. What do you mean, you can’t do it? Why can’t I? This is
what the federal government wants to do with GM! If they say it’s plausible,
who are you to question them? They’re the federal government! They got put
in charge of stuff!
sort of reminds me of a memorable incident involving one of my North Star
Writers Group colleagues, Herman Cain. Back when Herman was CEO of
Godfather’s Pizza, he appeared at a health care reform forum back when Bill
Clinton was trying to get Hillarycare passed. Herman stood up at the forum
and explained to the president of the United States that, if Hillarycare was
implemented, he would have to charge an extra $1.50 per pizza to cover the
President Clinton replied: “I’ve had your pizza. It’s really good! I’d pay
an extra $1.50 for it!”
when Herman’s head exploded.
There’s some value to being around people who don’t know the slightest thing
about business. They’ll come up with ideas that would never occur to you.
Most of them will be insane – OK, probably all of them – but at least it’s
nice to indulge in the occasional fantasy about how easy everything would be
if only we didn’t have to actually deal with reality.
© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.
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